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Immigrant People in Canada カナダの移民たち

School has started for Sumi and Sosuke, our grandchildren from Japan. (at Sumi’s school, Glen Eagles Elementary School. She is in Grade 7.)

Sosuke’s first day of school, at Lions Bay Elementary School. He is in Grade 2.
3 year old Riden and 4 month old Tora in Lions Bay
Snow geese in Powell River
I made 9 pies from our apple trees and 6 of them still frozen
Good beer at a lakeside pub

The summer is gone, and like a door shut behind us, September has arrived, bringing us cold air and much rain. Various classes and activities have started. I, who cannot stay still, have started my busy life again. Not only starting fitness, swimming, and choirs, which I always had, Neil and I started a brand new French class. I have never learned French before. To tell you the truth, I always had this doubt about studying new languages. I know how difficult languages are. Since I’m not a child, it seems impossible to become really proficient at this age. Then why would I bother? Wouldn’t it be a waste of time and money? What am I going to use French for? I had some serious doubts.

I don’t know why, but I had a silly imagination. That was….a French class taught by a strict elderly woman with reading glasses on her nose…..a silly stereotype ….and…..it was totally wrong. The person who was waiting for us at the French cultural center was a young black man with inquisitive eyes and big smiles. He is an immigrant from Congo. Although he was a medical doctor in Congo, he does not have the right qualification to practice medicine in Canada. So he is teaching and assisting French classes in the local schools. He seemed to be a sincere, fun, and patient man, and I liked him!

Thinking back this year, I met several immigrant people from different countries. When I was still living in Lions Bay, I took some personal training sessions. At the time, Covid caused all the fitness classes to be cancelled, and yet, I needed exercising so badly. At the Recreation Centre, R was assigned to me as my personal trainer. R is a young beautiful woman in her 30s, an immigrant from Syria. She is a single mother raising a 12 year old girl all by herself. Often, we engaged in conversations and she would say… “my daughter is getting more and more difficult these days,” or “I’m afraid my daughter is feeling lonely because I’m always working,” or “I have been all alone for more than 10 years I feel so lonely at times.” She reminded me of myself when I was in my 30s. “I know…I do understand your feelings…… I’ve been there. I, too, raised my children in a foreign country by myself, all alone. I, too, wept many nights, feeling so lonely.” I felt some invisible thread connecting R and me. I think of her often, even now, after moving to Powell River. R, please stay well and find lots of happiness……I’m thinking of you.

In July we moved to Powell River. On the moving day, 5 guys showed up to move our furniture and boxes in 2 big trucks. 4 out of 5 guys were immigrants. They were hard working, strong, wonderful guys from Albania, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Hong Kong. F, the guy from Albania was the leader. My first impression of him was “kind of scary,” because he had sharp eyes. When we traveled in Bulgaria some years ago, we had opportunities to drive beside Albanian borders. Albania was very different from west Europe or even Bulgaria. There were Islam mosques everywhere; villages were humble; and people were looking poor. During the 3 days of our move from Lions Bay to Powell River, my impression of F changed completely. He told me about his 2 children, about how he immigrated to Canada, and about how much he worries about his aging parents who are farming in Albania. He said funny jokes without moving a single muscle on his serious looking face, and I kept on laughing and laughing. He made our move so much fun when otherwise it could have turned stressful and exhausting. Thank you, F, for so much laughs, and thank you for taking good care of my sad looking potted plants.

After arriving Powell River, a young pleasant guy D came to install some blinds in the house. He was a refugee from Syria. He arrived here few years ago, sponsored by some group in Powell River. After finishing school somewhere, he came back to Powell River, and now he is settled down with a wife and job.

Canada is a country like mosaic. You look around and see many different faces, cultures, and languages. They have arrived here as immigrants or refugees, then working hard, although barely making their livings, and trying to co-exist with others in harmony. It is not easy to live here, especially when they don’t have the support or resources of their families. However, most of them put on a brave face, and try to find their place in this society. You need to work harder with lower wages, fight with hidden or occasionally obvious discriminations, be patient and open to new ways, and stay positive and hopeful. I feel like I am receiving energy and hope by getting to know these people. They are certainly contributing so much to making Canada a great place to live.



思えば今年に入ってから私はずいぶんいろんな国からの移民の人達に出会ったな。まずはまだライオンズベイに住んでいた今年の初め、コロナでフィットネスのクラスが閉鎖されたので、パーソナルトレーナーに個人レッスンを受けることにした。私のトレーナーはRという30代の美しい女性、シリアからの移民だそうな。一人で子供を育てながらパーソナルトレーニングの仕事をして一生懸命生きてる…。「子供が反抗期に入って大変なの。」「私がいつもいつも働いてるから子供に寂しい思いをさせてる、」「ずーっと10年以上も1人だったからすごーく寂しい時があるの、」と言いながらトレーニングをしてくれる姿を見ていると私の30代の頃の姿とダブってくる。『そうだよね。本当に。気持ち痛いほどわかるよ。私も異国の地で一人ぼっちで働きながら子供を育てたんだよ。私も寂しくて泣いたことが何度もあった。』なんとなくR というシリア出身の彼女と見えない糸で結ばれているかのような気がしてパウエルリバーに引っ越してからも気になっている。どうか元気で、幸せになってほしい…


7月に引っ越したとき5人の力強い男性が2台のトラックで運送してくれた。そのうち4人が移民。アルバニアとサウジアラビアとリビアと香港からの4人…力持ちでよーく働く素晴らしい若者たちだった。特に印象に残っているのはアルバニアから来たF 。最初に会った時は目が鋭くて怖いような気がしていた。数年前にブルガリアに行った時に、アルバニアのそばを何度もドライブする機会があった。いかにも貧しくて、イスラム教のモスクがあって、ヨーロッパとは全然雰囲気の違うアルバニアの村々は印象的だった。そのアルバニアから来た目の鋭いF。最初の怖い印象が、ライオンズベイからパウエルリバーまでの3日がかりの引っ越しの過程でガラリと変わってしまった。子供が2人いるというF 、奥さんがまずカナダに来てF をスポンサーしてくれたという。年老いた親御さんはアルバニアで農業をやっていて心配だという。真面目な顔をしておかしなことを言って私をケタケタ笑わせてくれる。ただでさえストレス満杯の引越しの日々を楽しくしてくれた。今にも死にそうな私の植木たちさえも嫌な顔一つせずユーモアたっぷり、丁寧に運んでくれて感謝。ありがとうF。

パウエルリバーに来てからも、D という若い、感じの良い男性がブラインドを取り付けに来てくれた。彼はシリアからの難民だという。数年前にパウエルリバーのグループがスポンサーになってくれてカナダに来たそうな。進学のために一度は町を出たけど、卒業してまたパウエルリバーに戻ってきたんだという。


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Why did we move? 引越しの理由

Many deer in our neighborhood 鹿がいっぱい
Texada Island with Raiden タクセーダ島 ライデンと

How many years ago was it?? Hmmmm…. Oh well…..it was several years ago anyway. My beloved nephew was getting married, and Neil and I were attending his wedding in Japan. Just when we were about to depart, Neil fell at a trail we walk the dogs every single day. He broke his ankle! It was too late to cancel the trip. I arranged the house so Neil could survive while I was away, and I flew to Japan by myself. I hurried back home to Canada right after the wedding.

Poor Neil, as soon as he saw my face, he declared. “We are moving.”

“What?” It hit me as a shock. We have just renovated our house! We moved to Lions Bay and it took two years to finish renovating. I loved our house and our neighborhood.

Give me a break, Neil …..!

But, he was right. Realistically thinking, if he could not walk by himself, he could not even go to the front door, or bedroom, or kitchen or bathroom. When you enter the front door, there is a staircase….if you cannot go up and down the stairs you are doomed. You are not going anywhere from the door. And, we did not think of it until it actually happened.

After that day, the word “moving” had occupied a little corner of my head flickering from time to time.

So Neil and I, not quite young chicks any more, definitely growing older, started to think seriously what would be important for us.

Important things would be….health, peace of mind, happiness of our children and grandchildren, friendships, communities, some intellectual and cultural stimulation, life purposes, helping others….etc.etc.

We started to see that Powell River might be a good fit for us. It is close to our cottage on Texada Island. The real estate is still cheaper than other places in the Sunshine Coast.

Long long time ago when I was working in the building product industry, I wrote an article introducing to the Japanese market Canada’s barrier-free houses. While interviewing people for the article, I remember thinking I would love to live in one of these barrier-free houses when I get old.

One day, we met a guy named Gary who sold us a truck camper. He told us that he built by himself a passive solar house. He kindly showed us his house, and we were impressed. We started researching about passive solar houses, and found an article about a “passive house” on Vancouver Island built by a company in Squamish. (Passive solar house is a predecessor of passive house). We contacted the company right away.

Things went very smoothly up to this point, but it was a struggle after struggle from there on. We couldn’t find a builder who would be willing to risk building such a house. Nobody knew how long and how much money was needed to build. We had no idea if we could even afford it.

We came so close to giving up the idea, but kept on talking to builders. In the end, we found a local Powell River builder who was open to give this challenging project a try. We liked the person very well, so we happily threw the dice. We sold 60% of our house in Lions Bay to our youngest daughter. She had just started a family, and wanted a house, but, of course, could not afford one in Vancouver. This arrangement seemed to create a win-win situation. She got a house to live, we got the construction money, and we retained 40% so we had a place to stay while visiting our grandchildren.

So, the construction started. We were so happy, looking forward to live there a year later……then, Covid came. Everything just stalled. People worked from home, shipments utterly delayed. The construction schedule was nullified. The prices of materials skyrocketed…. Our house grew grossly over budget. What can we do? …..Nothing…. we can’t stop now…..

My blood pressure kept on rising for the four years.

Finally this July, we were able to move into our new house in Powell River. After 4 years of waiting we are now living in this little city of 14000 people. Our house is a passive house, no furnace or air conditioning, as well as a barrier free house, accessible with wheelchair.

Look, we are now well prepared for the future!

Neil, you can now have a peace of mind!! (Neil is 68 years old, 6’9” tall and weighs 275lb!!)

It all started with Neil’s injury…but, to tell you the truth, I did enjoy every aspect and every process of the project…..especially designing and choosing materials…..except the money part, of course.

However, what really matters is what happens hereafter. We need to get involved in the new circle of people, make new friends, and start contributing to the new community…..with God’s help….. I feel dizzy when I think of starting all over again from scratch…..introducing myself, finding people I like, getting involved in activities….. Who would be my new friends? What kind of life is waiting for me? Looking forward to it, but at the same time, I am sighing…… How exhausting……😢

何年前だったかな? うーむ… ま、いいや…ともかく数年前にある出来事が起こった。日本にいる最愛の甥の結婚式にニールと私二人で出席することになっていた。出発の間際にニールがいつも歩いている散歩道で足を踏み外して足首の骨を折ってしまったのだ。あんまり急で、結婚式を今さら欠席するわけにもいかず、とりあえずニールが数日過ごせるように支度をして、私は一人で日本に飛んだ。



















Coincidence? Really? 偶然?本当に?

Our first lunch guests in Powell River パウエルリバーで初めてのお客様
Neil found a Tree Spirit in the forest … ニールが森の中で木の精を見つけたよ。
Taking a close look. Looks like a wood carving? 近くで見るとこんな感じ。木彫りの鳥かな?。
Ferry boat going to Texada タクセーダ島に行くフェリー
Beach in Powell River. Sometimes whales are splashing. パウエルリバーの海岸。時々鯨の潮吹きが見えるよ。
Deer family in our backyard, eating apples 庭のリンゴを食べに来る鹿の家族

Two days ago, when we were walking with our dogs along the shoreline of Powell River, a couple passed by. ‘She looks familiar,’ I thought for a moment. Of course, there are many people who look familiar…so, I smiled and kept on walking. ‘’Aaaaah‼️” Voice came from them. Two+ years ago, before the Covid pandemic closed down large gatherings including choirs, she was singing in the same choir in West Vancouver. Though I don’t recall having much conversation with her, I vaguely remembered her face.

We stopped and talked for awhile. “What a coincidence! What are you doing here?”

They said they were camping in Powell River. It turned out that they had lived in Japan for quite a long time. In fact, they met and got married in Tokyo. They camped on Texada Island last year and are trying Powell River this year. They like this area, they said.

Out of 2.5 million people living in Vancouver, 4 people who used to sing in the same choir happened to come to the same spot of the small town of 14,000 people, 5 hours drive away, at the very same time ……

Isn’t this a miracle??

Is this really a mere coincidence?

When I think of it, there are coincidences that happened in my life, that later brought changes in my life.

Some big ones are…..

50+ years ago, when I was only 13 years old, with no English whatsoever, I arrived in Los Angeles. I met a tiny adorable poodle on the road. This encounter led me to meet a wonderful pianist/teacher, and resulted in having music as a huge part of my whole life.

20+ years ago, I was invited to a dinner party. I met a person at the dinner who told me about a business graduate program called Executive MBA in Simon Fraser University. I ended up getting enrolled in the program, and met Neil who was one of the professors there, and now my spouse of 21 years.

We used to go camping to the beautiful Okanagan area. One year, there was terrible wild fire and we went to Sunshine Coast instead. We came to Texada Island and absolutely loved there. We built a cottage and it’s been 16+ years now. And, we ended up choosing Powell River for our retirement because of the easy access to Texada.

It’s amazing. My major life directions were led by some unpredicted coincidences.

I thought of a book I read many many years ago called “Celestine Prophecy.” The message was that there is no such thing as coincidence. The word being used is not “coincidence,” but “synchronicity.” Everything that happens to you has meaning. It was meant to happen. Every being you meet has message(s) for you…. I remember the book very well. It had such a strong impact on me. The surprising synchronicity of meeting my choir friend brought back the feeling of “Celestine Prophecy.”

Life is interesting. Every synchronicity is important and precious. I really need to live my life more mindfully. I need to value each moment and each encounter…..











昔々に読んだCelestine Prophecy (日本語題は『聖なる予言』)を思い出す。この世の中に単なる偶然なんてない。偶然という言葉もcoincidenceではなくsynchronicity という言葉を使ってたな。自分に起こることは起こるべきして起こる。人(人間以外の動物等を含めて)との出会いには必ず意味がある。そんな内容の本で、読んだ当時は強い感銘を受けたものだ。


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We moved! 引っ越しました。

Beautiful Morning Glory flower! 引越しのストレスにも負けず朝顔が咲いたよ❗️
Our new house in Powell River パウエルリバーの新居
Thanks for blooming despite stressful summer….my mother’s cactus from Japan 母のサボテンが今年も綺麗に咲いてくれました。
Ferry boat to Texada Island タクセーダ島へのフェリー
Sunset from our deck 我が家のデッキからの夕焼け
Sea walk in Powell River パウエルリバーの海岸

Never again!

What a stressful summer! Our house is not fully organized yet, but at least I have recovered enough to feel like sitting down to write this blog.

Our July began with never-ending packing. Unbelievable how much junk we had! Then, 2 big fully-loaded 7ton trucks arrived at our new house in Powell River on the 7th. It was the beginning of our endless wrestling with the boxes. We needed to return to our house in Lions Bay where we lived the past 10 years, in order to move in-house. We switched our living spaces with Rutsu. Rutsu’s family moved into the space we used to live (upper 2 floors) and our stuff which didn’t go to Powell River was moved to the ground floor where Rutsu used to live. After the move, we returned swiftly to Powell River, continued our wrestling with the boxes, in the ocean of dripping sweat.

It was a record high temperature this summer. During the heat dome it exceeded 35C-40C in Vancouver which is usually around 25C. A town called Lytton which is 3-4 hours drive in-land from Vancouver experienced incredible 49.5C, and was destroyed by the fire the next day…. Unbelievable worst nightmare….!!

Though nothing like that, I had an exhausting summer, too. Now I can see some light at the end of the tunnel, I’m looking forward to writing my blogs, not long ones but more frequently, hopefully.

Powell River is about 4 hour drive, not including the waiting time for the ferry boats, a coastal town north of Vancouver, with population of about 14,000, a laidback peaceful countryside. Good thing is….I can even walk to the ferry terminal for Texada Island where we have our cottage.

So……to be continued.

The next blog would be…..perhaps, “why we decided to move.”









Thank you, Susan. You are a blessing! ありがとう、そしてご苦労さま。

Last Sunday, May 30th was the last day for Susan as the formal organist of St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Kerrisdale, Vancouver. She has now officially retired.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been already 16 years since I first met Susan. 16 years ago I was an unhappy disillusioned business person, and wondering seriously if I had made a terrible career choice. I used to be intensely involved in my piano career until my early 30s when I was still living in Japan. However, moving to Canada, becoming a single mother to my 3 children, I needed to work in business in order to make a living.

16 years ago, I didn’t know anybody in the music field here in Vancouver. I didn’t know who to talk to. I felt like an outsider, rather lonely and somewhat lost. I knew I had to do something, yet I was reluctant to make any move forward. I must have had too big an ego. One day, my dear friend Ginger, encouraged me to contact Susan. After some time of more procrastination, I finally phoned Susan. At that moment, my life has changed.

I went to see Susan at the St. Mary’s Anglican Church. “Would you like to try pipe organ?” She said. I had never seen a pipe organ close up before. I had heard the recorded sounds, but never known how it worked. She took out music and let me play few lines.

Wow! How shocking it was. I don’t know how to describe it. The vibrations from the pipe organ came running through my body. It was a thrilling sense I had never experienced before. Instantly I was taken.

Ever since that day, I went to see Susan weekly, diligently for 15 years….until Covid regulations made it impossible. I dreamed of playing my favorite J. S. Bach pieces on this magnificent instrument……..

Pipe organ is an extremely difficult instrument. Not only hands and feet play notes independently of each other, but create sounds together on the multiple keyboards. Feet have another important role of controlling boxes which manage volumes. There are pistons that connect to each and every pipe. Each pipe has sounds of different instruments like strings, trumpet, oboe, flutes…. You have to choose sounds you want for each section, phrase, and voice, and assign pipes independently or by combinations. The pistons need to be pulled or pushed while hands and feet are busy playing the notes. It is just incredibly complicated. I often felt like my head was just about bursting.

Susan was always patient, sincere, enthusiastic, positive, and encouraging. Despite feeling overwhelmed, I often came home feeling happy and hopeful. I couldn’t wait to try out and practice again. It gave me such a joy.

As I got to know Susan I quickly realized her life as a church musician was extremely challenging. She had unbelievable schedules and responsibilities…..both at home and work. Even in difficult times, she never stopped being loving, caring, and giving to people around her. She was always available and willing to help.

Susan is my role model. I am so grateful that I got to know her. It was truly a blessing for me. Ginger, thank you so much for connecting me with Susan.

My sincere congratulations to you, Susan, for your long and successful career. Thank you for being my mentor for all these years. Please continue to be my mentor and my life-long friend.

5月30日日曜日はスーザンのSt. Mary’s のオルガニストとしての最後の日だった。St. Mary’s はバンクーバーのケリスデールにある大きな聖公会の教会だ。



St. Mary’s に行って初めてスーザンに会った。スーザンはいきなり「パイプオルガンを触ってみる?」と言った。私はレコードは聞いたことがあるもののパイプオルガンなるものを間近で見たことなどなかった。どんなふうに音を出すものやら全く検討もつかなかった。スーザンが楽譜を取り出して私はおそるおそる数行弾いてみた。








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Witchy Woman

In preparation for moving, I was sorting out our stuff in the house, and found some old CDs of rock music from 1970s. Wow…..I didn’t remember I had these CDs. I should listen to them in the car. I stack them up near the driving seat.

Eagles, the first thing came out was Witchy Woman. It took less than a second to be completely immersed in the song. The melody, the rhythm, the words…everything, instantly came back to me. I was amazed how clearly I remembered. It has been 48+ years since this song was on the weekly radio hit chart.

Not only remembering, I was transported right back to “17 year old me”. When I look at myself in mirror, I see a 65 year old woman. When I turn on this CD, I am all of a sudden 17. It’s a magic, Isn’t it?

So, tell me. Where did my 48 years go?

17 year old me was in Los Angeles just finishing Grade 12. I was looking forward to my new life in the University of Southern California. I was a bit sad about parting with my high school friends….just a little bit. The bluest sky, dazzling sunshine, pleasant breeze, perfect temperature……..yes, California was beautiful, just like Vancouver today. My father drove me around in his huge yellow Chevrolet Impala. I slide in to the passenger seat. I tune into KISS FM. Witchy Woman comes on. I crank up the volume and sing along……loud.

Music is mysterious. It sinks deeply into myself, glues tightly to my psyche, and without me noticing, it becomes part of me….

Who would have thought I would be sitting here in the car listening to this song, after 48 years, in Canada, in Vancouver, with Neil and my two dogs?


イーグルス。最初に聞いたのがウイッチーウーマンWitchy Woman。1秒もたたないうちに曲にのめり込んでしまった。メロディーもリズムも歌詞も何もかもがたちまち戻ってきた。何ともハッキリと鮮明に覚えている自分に驚いた。もうあれから48年もの歳月が流れているのに。




17歳の私はロスアンゼルスにいた。ハイスクールを終える直前だった。南カリフォルニア大学(USC)への入学が決まって、新しい生活を楽しみにしていた。ハイスクールの友達との別れがちょっぴり悲しかった。真っ青な青空、眩しいばかりの太陽、心地よい微風と完璧な温度、そう、今日のバンクーバーのようなカリフォルニアの気候。父の運転する巨大なクリーム色のシェボレーインパラに座ってKISS FMをつけるとよくこの曲が流れてきたっけ。ボリュームを上げて一緒に歌ったな〜。


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End of a Chapter チャプターの終わり

Rowley, Alberta アルバータ州のローリーにて

We are letting go of our camper.

It’s been 3 and a half years. We slept under the blanket of stars, woke up to the bright sunshine and gentle breeze, had adventures after adventures, discovered new places, encountered new situations and interesting people. We had our dreams come true. It brought us so much fun and excitement.

In Canada camping season is relatively short, basically only the summer months. We had a wonderful first year. We camped with our dogs half way across the whole continent. It was a great opportunity for us and Kafka to have an intimate time with our new dog Lulu who had been rescued in Taiwan and had just arrived to be with us in Canada. When we arrived in Regina, excruciating pains started and Neil’s knee stopped working. We couldn’t carry on camping. We came home feeling discouraged. Nevertheless, we were happy that we got to discover some really interesting places like Rowley, Alberta and Regina Beach, Saskatchewan where we would have never visited had we not camping.

The second year, Neil had a hernia operation, and when he finally recovered, it was my turn to be hospitalized for meningitis. We enjoyed a short camping trip after I was recovered, but chilly Fall arrived so early in September that the camping season had to end.

The third year, Neil had a knee operation, and a hernia operation for the second time. When he was finally recovered, this Covid-19 pandemic had started. We were told to stay home, not allowed to go outside the province, and thus all the camp grounds in BC became so full. Moreover, horrendous wild fires in the US covered our west coast with dense and heavy smoke and ashes.. Normally warm and beautiful August turned into a dark cold month. The air quality became such that our breathing became difficult. People ran to purchase air purifying machines!

We had such a bad luck for 3 years in a row. Would it be any better this year? Not likely. Covid seems to be storming through all Canada. It is unlikely that crossing the provincial borders would be allowed. The wild fires which seem to worsen every year have no sign of diminishing. And, the worst…..we are getting older faster every year. Such a pity, but a little pilot light that had started burning in the back of our heads was growing bigger and bigger. We had to finally acknowledge it. So sad…..

But, for some reason, I feel that this was the right decision for us for now. One of our wonderful chapters has come to an end….and…. that’s life.

We came to the stage in life that we need to start simplifying our lives. That means….we need to discern what we want in our life. What/who makes us happy/unhappy, what/whom we love, what we can and cannot, what are our priorities…..then what is important is to put our whole selves wholeheartedly to whatever we do.

I am 65 years old and already realizing that my body is not the same. My energy level is lower. I get tired easily. If I eat junk, right away, I see it in the mirror. What I put on is utterly difficult to put off. I see my thoughts go sliding down easily to negative. I have to consciously keep lifting up to positive. I wonder if Covid is related to this….. Is everybody feeling somewhat the same way? I don’t know…..but I should not ignore. Regardless, I should try doing what is important for me and my loved ones, helping those who need help, seeking some excitement and adventures…. and…. I need to stay healthy.










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Happy New Year! あけましておめでとうございます!

Happy New Year!

Every year I write and snail mail my Christmas letter in Japanese and English to our long time friends and families around the world. I started doing it when we moved from Japan to Canada in 1990. So, it is a 30 year tradition now. At first, I was writing to my aunts and uncles how we were doing in Canada, and showing how much my babies have grown. Then, as my children grew up….to grown-ups….to have started their own family…..to making me a grandma…..now with 5 little ones in total and one more on the way….my personal letter became more and more like a newsletter of the family centered around me. Nowadays, what happens every year is that my children send their annual family snap shots to me, and I just organize and lay them out in the letter. Naturally, most of the photos end up to be looking joyous and fun.

However, just because the photos are looking joyous, it doesn’t mean my life is filled with fun. Happy photos seem to give happy impressions. I received feedback from some friends saying something like “your life is always full of happy, interesting, extraordinary, and fantastic things. You must never get bored…”or “you are always surrounded by a large family, your life is full of love and happiness…” or “I am so envious….” or “my life and your life are completely opposite like night and day”…… hummmmm……..I moan. I say to myself “that’s not right….” and wonder if including photos is even a good thing to do…..

Of course, I am grateful of my life. I do have a happy life. I have a warm-hearted loving husband and we get along. We are not rich, but not poor. If we don’t indulge ourselves with luxuries we can have a comfortable life. The small children 30 years ago have grown to have their own careers and families, and thankfully they are all reasonably happy. But, ….my moaning continues…. Just like everybody’s life, my life is not perfect. There are days I feel so depressed and find myself hiding in a room not wanting to interact with anybody. I don’t want my letters to be like some postings on Facebook showing off one’s success or meals and loudly proclaiming how wonderful their lives are. It’s a serious problem for me if my letter makes somebody feel that way…..

The first day of the brand new year started with my disappointing “senior moment.” When I was making the traditional rice cakes, I forgot to add water to rice, and of course, the rice burned….. OMG….would this stupidity symbolize my new year? I pray it would not.

My Zen meditation teacher at his Dharma Talk this morning started his talk with the words “Your life is perfect.”

What? When I was just thinking my life was not perfect…..?

“All you have is now.” He said.

Of course, our lives might be a consequence of our choices, or a consequence of some external pressures. However, as he says, we can only deal with “now”. This moment is the only moment we can make difference.

Then, he said. “Let’s lift up this moment to the highest, to be the best moment you can ever have.”

Yes! I thought. That’s what I needed to hear! I should not worry about what happens in the future…..how series of moment to moment could end up bringing somebody some unpleasantness…it’s probably something I need not worry about….

My thoughts of the New Year of 2021.











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What’s my identity? 私って何人?

The other day Neil and I went to a bank to open a GIC account. A young handsome guy working in the bank sat with us, explained options, and went through a lengthy procedure, and finally we were done. We stood up to say good bye, and at that moment….don’t know why….but I said to the guy something totally irrelevant.

“Thank you for saying my name right. I have been impressed that you pronounce ‘Haruyo’ so well. Not many people can do that…you know.”

The young lad’s face instantly lightened up. “Ever since I was a kid I was an enthusiastic fan of a Japanese animation called Captain Tsubasa. There were times I actually told people that my name was Kakero!”

“I would love to go to Japan. It has been my dream for a long time!” etc. etc.

So… we sat down again and listened to his story.

He said, when Genghis Khan invaded northern Pakistan in early 12th century, some Mongolian soldiers stayed back in the region. Their descendants still live there today, and he was one of them. His ancestors were Mongolian. He was born and raised in Pakistan, but was educated in England. Now, he is a Canadian!

Wow….what an interesting background! It sounds so much like Canada!

Then, I thought. Wow, well….then, what am I? What’s my identity?

Yes, my parents are Japanese. I was born and raised in Japan. So, racially, I’m a Japanese. At age 13 I moved to USA and lived my formative years there from Grade 8 to University Freshman. I went back to Japan at age 18, finished my undergraduate, got married to a Japanese man, and gave birth to 3 children. When the children were 8, 6, and 3 years old, we moved to Canada and it’s been 30 years since. In that time, my marriage broke down, I got divorced, and my children grew up with me in Canada. I studied in graduate school, worked in education, building, and music fields, raised my children, and remarried a Canadian person 20 years ago. I still have a Japanese passport, but my life is centered in Canada, and I am a permanent resident of Canada.

Hummmm…. so? I know for sure that I’m not an American.

Then, am I Japanese or Canadian?

2 weeks ago when I was coming back from Japan, I noticed in the plane that the screen in front of my seat showed where we were flying. It was about 30-40 minutes before the arrival time. The screen said “Comox”. What? Comox? So are we flying just above Comox? Thick dark clouds were hiding any views downwards. Then the screen showed “Powell River”. Right between Comox and Powell River there is Texada Island.

Straight below me lies my beloved Texada Island!! I am back….!!

Non-describable feelings of joy and excitement slowly bubbled up from somewhere deep in myself. I was surprised to realize such a reaction.

I am a person with Japanese face, with families in Japan. I love Japan…people, culture, food….everything about Japan. Yet, I deeply love Canada. It felt like I had an epiphany moment to realize that I might already be a Canadian at heart.

Whatever that was, Japan and Canada are both beautiful, caring, respectful, and sincere nations. So wonderful that there are people waiting for me in both countries. What Blessings!








2週間ほど前、日本からカナダに帰ってくる飛行機の中で到着時間の30分〜40分くらい前かな。なんとなく飛行機の現在位置を示すスクリーンを見ていたら、Comox 上空と出た。「え?Comox?」と思ったらPowell Riverという文字も出てきた。ということは… Comox とPowell Riverの間にタクセーダ島は位置するから…もしかして、今私はタクセーダ島の上空を飛んでいるのかも❣️







2020 Camping Trip (2) 2020年キャンプ旅行(2)

Kafka and Lulu at Shelter Point Beach, Texada Island

Well….the fifth day of our camping trip, we left Seal Bay for the next camping destination. First we made a brief stop at a winery we found nearby. We had a bit of tasting, and bought a bottle of full-bodied Meritage. We stopped at a gigantic grocery store in Campbell River, then headed to the Alder Bay Campgound which is about 2 hours drive north of Campbell River.

Driving Hwy 19 was pleasant. We drove through such beautiful forest and lakes, no sign of human settlements. What we didn’t notice was that our cell phones showed “no service”. This is one of those areas where our cell phones don’t work.

Soon after we left the rest area, I heard a weird sound, huewww 〜〜 like a whistle.

What is that sound?

Uneasy feeling came to my head. What if…. We stopped the car and checked the tires. Oh no…. the back left side tire was blown out. Not quite flat yet.

Oh my God, what shall we do?

This was the moment we noticed that our cell phones were not working. The phones might start working if we could get back closer to Campbell River, we thought. So, we started driving slowly and super carefully towards Campbell River. Within not even 10km, the tire blew out completely, totally disfigured, and we could not continue any more. The cell phones were still out of service. We took out the manual and read the instructions of how to change tires. Looking too difficult….

So….what shall we do….?

There, a pick up truck was coming to our direction. Neil waved his arms big and hard. Luckily the truck stopped right away. A 77 year old driver with his grandson and a dog coming back from their hunting, kindly offered Neil a ride to Campbell River. When he gets to town, his cellphone would work, and he can call BCAA which we have been members for a long time. There, I can see a bit of hope…

When Neil was gone with some strangers, our dogs started to show uneasiness. They were anxious, nervous, and scared. I thought I should pretend like everything was alright, or else the dogs would panick. I took out my book and started reading, tried to stay calm. From time to time, huge commercial trucks zoomed by with incredible speed, shaking our camper hard, as if they could run over or blow us down. What if the truck driver was looking sideways and hit the rear end of our camper? Or even just touched our camper even a little would be enough to end our lives…. No, no, no, that can not happen…. I took my book in my hands and tried to focus on reading.

Maybe I read about an hour….. oh no…. I need to go to toilet. What? Toilet? Of course there is no toilet. I looked around and around, over and over, and found a spot behind some bushes entering the forest area where I might be able to go without anybody seeing me. I pushed my courage up, opened the door, stepped out the car to the road side, into the grassy area. It looked like grass, but actually it was way taller than I thought, and thorny. I walked to the bushes getting so many bloody scratches…. but my mission was successfully completed!!

It felt like forever. But, it might have been about 2 hours…

While waiting, two trucks stopped by, and offered some help. They were both young boys. I really appreciated their kindness.

I saw a big tow-truck coming toward us with the flashing lights, and parked in an angle behind our camper. A young skinny boy jumped off the truck waving hands to me. He removed the broken tire and replaced it with the spare tire in no time. He told me to drive to KalTire in Campbell River. He said he will follow me and make sure I will be alright.

When I finally arrived Campbell River, and finally found my cellphone working, I looked behind. The tow-truck was already gone. Too bad, I wanted to say one last “thank you” to that young boy…. Thank you so much for coming to rescue us!

We were united with Neil at KalTire. I would never forget the joy our dogs showed when they saw Neil at the tire shop. They were overwhelmingly happy and expressed their joy with their whole bodies, jumping and dancing around.

Poor Kafka and Lulu…. they must have been worried so much.

It was after the business closing hour when I arrived, but the guy at KalTire waited for us and changed all the tires for our truck swiftly without complaining, and not minding working overtime. We really appreciated their kindness.

By that time, it was too late to head again to the Alder Bay campground. I phoned all the campgrounds near Campbell River and Comox. Every place was full. What if we take the ferry back to Powell River? We had an hour to the departure time, and my GPS said it takes an hour and 3 minutes to drive to the terminal. We took the gamble. We drove as fast as we could to get to the Comox ferry terminal and got there 5 minutes before the departure!!

We made it to the last ferry to Powell River!!

Then we got onto the last ferry to Texada Island. Since smoke from wild fires in the US was so densely covering the ocean, the boat was delayed and slow. We arrived our cottage close to midnight, exhausted, but relieved!

Both of us and our two dogs all slept so well that night.

It made me think about two things. I really appreciated how strangers helped us and showed sympathy for us. Do I help strangers enough? No…. I really should be way more helpful when I see somebody facing problems.

Another thing was how our dogs reacted. They knew very well something was wrong. They cannot speak words, but they were so worried and scared. And when we were all united, their overwhelming joy exploded from their bodies. They understand very well. They have way more understanding and sophistication than we think. If dogs can sense so well, all other animals can sense as well. I wonder how pigs and cows are feeling when they are taken to the slaughter house. My heart aches when I imagine that.

さてキャンプ旅行5日目、Seal Bay を後にした私達は次のキャンプ場に向かって出発。まずは近くのワイナリーで試飲して赤ワインを購入。キャンベルリバーという町で食料品を買い込み、2時間くらい北上したところにあるAlder Bay Campgrounds に向かった。

ハイウエイ19を北上、素晴らしい森や湖の景色、でも人が住んでいる気配はない。気がつかなかったのは私たちの携帯がno serviceと表示されていたこと。つまり携帯が全く使えない地域なんだ。



私の頭を不安がよぎった。もしかして…?  まずは道端に止まってタイヤをチェック。  不安的中!                後方左側のタイヤがパンクしている。

うわ〜 ヤバイ❗️















それからタクセーダ島への最終のフェリーに乗って私達のコテージに到着する。折しもアメリカからの山火事の煙が立ち込めてフェリーが遅れ、しかも超低速スピードだったおかげでコテージに着いたのは夜中に近かった。疲れた〜〜 でもホッとした〜〜